JAVS Fall 2023

and underserved voices such as Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and was active as a commissioner, arranger, and composer of music. My first encounter with Maud Powell was as a teenager via a multi-volume reissue of her recordings by Naxos where, among other things, she performed Herman Bellstedt’s Caprice on Dixie for solo violin. This is a deeply impressive and fun showpiece that—while elaborated in the European virtuoso style—is nevertheless profusely American, and thus richly Americana in presentation and feeling, not unlike the Yankee Doodle variations of Henri Vieuxtemps, as it turns out, which he counted as one of his many souvenirs of America. 2 Hearing this recording, I loved that Powell was American and unknown to me then, that she played in the relict style of 19th century violinists which I adore, and that she was an amazing player to boot with a wonderful power of expression and technique that none of her contemporaries could better, so far as my survey of them went. One need look no further than this recording to get a taste of Powell’s accomplishments as a violinist, though one would be richly rewarded if they did! Among her recordings can be found many character works and trifles–– there was hardly space enough on the records of the day for large pieces–– but serious numbers as well, including a portion of the Mendelssohn concerto, its final movement. The two pieces by Powell included in the present collection by Greenblatt are from her Plantagen-Lieder : Kingdom Comin’ and My Old Kentucky Home , both of which, while not being virtuosic will be recognizably American to the player and prove a charming reward on a concert program. Greenblatt has wisely, appropriately, and thankfully–– for those of us who appreciate such things—provided mini biographies of each composer represented in this collection. Reading them has been of great interest to me and I am particularly struck by some of the composers from many centuries ago, such as Élisabeth-Claude Jacquet de La Guerre, who was a harpsichord virtuoso, composer of solo, chamber, and stage works, famous for her activities at the court of Louis XIV of France, and Elisabetta de Gambarini who was active in Britain (she was born there to an Italian father) during the middle of the 18th century as a harpsichordist, composer, and all

around musician. There are women of other sorts of titled distinctions represented here as well, being Dame Ethel Mary Smyth and Countess Ada Louise Metz de Lachau, and Lili’uokalani, Queen of the Hawaiian Kingdom and its last monarch. The women in this group are quite interesting and worth studying, for their individual lives and the music they produced during them. This collection has my hearty recommendation and, to be sure, I will be making use of it presently. Footnotes: 1 It will be noted that Greenblatt has produced versions of this same collection for other sorts of instrument duos: orchestral strings, mandolins, various recorders. 2 Maud Powell’s recording of another of Vieuxtemps’s American souvenirs, St. Patrick’s Day , from his op. 33 “Bouquet américain” is excellent. Presumably, she knew his Yankee Doodle ditty too.


Journal of the American Viola Society / Vol. 39, No. 2, Fall 2023

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